PINOY para-athletes are acknowledging the unprecedented support they are receiving from the Philippine Sports Commission as one of the major factors in their recent successes and inspiration to do their best in the 10th ASEAN Para Games the country will host on March 20 to 28.
“Si Chairman (Butch) Ramirez, palagi niyang sinasabi na ‘he has a soft spot in his heart’ para sa mga para-athletes natin. And he truly inspires our para-athletes for what he does in PSC,” said Francis Diaz, chief of mission of Team Philippines.
“Blockbuster ang support ng PSC. The national government, through the PSC, is funding all the training and international competitions of our para-athletes. We are very thankful for that commitment,” added Diaz.
From 2017 to 2019, the PSC has spent P182 billion budget for the training and exposure of national para-athletes.
With the PSC’s backing, Pinay table tennis paralympian Josephine Medina won a gold medal in the 2019 ITTF Para Bangkok Open in Thailand. The national para team won 10 gold, 8 silver and 11 bronze medals in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia, where all the medalists received a total of P16.2 million cash incentive from the agency.
The agency has also helped the para-athletes community receive benefits equal to that being received by regular athletes. The agency has also been supporting the Para National Games that started in 2012, Nationwide Alay PARA Atleta Program that was launched during the 1st Philippine Sports Summit in 2017 in Quezon City, and hosted the 1st Pilipinas Para Games last year.
Diaz believes these programs have helped the Philippine Paralympic Committee discover more talents for the national pool.
“Dahil sa ating grassroots development program at sa support ng PSC, lumawak po ‘yung training pool ng ating coaches at naka-identify sila ng mga para-athletes para mapalakas ang national team,” Diaz said.
In the coming 2020 Asean Para Games, the Philippines will field 250 athletes and 80 officials. This is expected to be the biggest Philippine contingent in APG history.
In the 2017 games held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, there were 80 Pinoy para-athletes and 20 officials who participated as the Philippines finished fifth overall, the best finish of the country so far in the games, with a total of 69 medals: 20 gold, 20 silver, and 29 bronzes.
“Basta ang commitment natin, we will try to improve on our last finish in the ASEAN Para Games. Kung maging No. 4 tayo, that’s an improvement already. Kung No. 3, mas maganda. Siyempre, we will aspire for a podium finish,” Diaz said.